What are Marine Le Pen’s ties to Vladimir Putin’s Russia?

On the eve of the 2017 presidential election, Marine Le Pen went to Moscow to shake hands with Vladimir Putin, in what looked like a political endorsement. Five years later, the candidate of the National Rally (RN) uniquely changed her tone in relation to the master of the Kremlin, who in the meantime invaded Ukraine:

“I have no friendship with Vladimir Putin, with whom I met once in my life, and I do not even have financial relations with him.”

An attempt to conceal a decade of political, ideological, and financial rapprochement between Marine Le Pen and Vladimir Putin.

Multiple expressions of support or admiration

Since joining in January 2011 the presidency of the National Front (FN) – renamed the National Rally in 2018 – Marine Le Pen has repeatedly declared her admiration for Vladimir Putin and her support for his policy, despite multiple violations of human rights and international law by the Russian regime. It was only after the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 that it began to actually change its position.

Flights to Moscow and an official reception

The head of the Russian National Front has visited Russia at least four times since 2013, each time receiving honors from the regime.

  • June 2013: Received in Douma on the first approved flight to Russia
Marine Le Pen received the Speaker of the State Duma in Moscow on June 19, 2013.

A year after her first presidential candidacy, Marine Le Pen made a ten-day trip to Crimea (then still Ukrainian) and to Russia. In Moscow, together with Louis Elliot (then deputy chairman of the FN), she was received by two important figures of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament: its head, Sergei Naryshkin, former KGB / FSB, and Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs Alexei Pushkov. During this visit, she denounces A kind of cold war against Russia led by the European Union [UE] ». Russia is presented with demonic features (…). I feel more in line with this model of economic patriotism than with the European Union.”She insists in front of the cameras.

  • April 2014: Second visit to Russia, again received in Douma

A few weeks after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and less than a year after its last visit to Moscow, Marine Le Pen was once again greeted by Sergei Narykin with open arms. This close friend of Putin, who came to the top of power thanks to his close relations with the Russian president, has himself been subjected to the sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States since the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. An opportunity for the head of the National Front to support him and remind him of his opposition to such measures:

I said from the start that sanctions and even threats of sanctions (…) It was completely counterproductive. I keep it. »

  • May 2015: third trip to Moscow, always welcomed in the State Duma
Marine Le Pen in front of the State Duma, in Moscow, before a meeting with Sergei Naryshkin, May 26, 2015.

For the third year in a row, Sergey Naryshkin received Marine Le Pen in Duma. The latter complements the far-right European Parliament party at length, qualifying the National Front as a political formation “stable and continuous”. “Thanks to your personal influence, the new definitions of your party correspond to the times and the spirit of modern France”Adds this a close friend of Vladimir Putin.

This treatment, Moscow does not give it to everyonemale reporter Globalism on time. Two days earlier, Karl-George Wellman, a deputy of the CDU, Angela Merkel’s conservative party, was expelled from the territory upon his arrival on May 24 at Moscow airport due to his links with Ukraine, whose friendship group he heads in the Bundestag. »

  • March 24, 2017: First official reception of Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin receives Marine Le Pen at the Kremlin, March 24, 2017.

Less than four weeks before the first round of the 2017 presidential election, the Republican candidate will go to Moscow for the fourth time in five years, with the Kremlin’s doors now open for her.

Vladimir Putin, whose admiration for her has never hidden, receives her for an hour and a half. In front of the photographers, they exchanged a warm handshake and sat around the same table. “I know you represent a rapidly growing political spectrum in Europe”The Russian president slips from it.

“We don’t want to influence current events in any way.”Vladimir Putin launches accusations of meddling in the presidential campaign. According to Marine Le Pen’s team, the meeting was aimed above all at highlighting the convergence of views, especially on the fight against terrorism and the migration crisis that subsequently affected Europe. They say to themselves ” Totally agree “ With the French candidate on these issues, he assures us that “Only by joining forces can we effectively counter the terrorist threat”.

During this trip, Marine Le Pen also drifted to the Duma, where she was received by its new president, Vyacheslav Volodin, also close to the Russian president. It welcomes the intervention of the Russian forces in Syria and reiterates its “A view on Ukraine matches Russia’s”He affirmed his desire to lift international sanctions that burden Russian figures.

Votes are constantly in favor of Russia

The RAF and Marine Le Pen’s support for Vladimir Putin goes beyond words. Through MEPs, the far-right party has almost systematically defended the Russian system by voting against European Parliament resolutions condemning hostilities or violations of international law committed by the Kremlin master.

The elected officials of the Rwandan Patriotic Front only began to change their position after the invasion of Ukraine, by agreeing to consent, on 1Verse March 2022, one of the sanctions packages decided by the European Union.

Relatives with close ties to Russia

Like her father, Marine Le Pen has always had Russian personalities with close ties to Russian power in her close entourage. Between 2010 and 2015, his international political advisor, geopolitical scientist Aymeric Choprid, doubled down on meetings with relatives of Vladimir Putin. If he now breaks with the national army, his closeness to the Kremlin was confirmed in 2019, with his appointment as a trained parliamentary collaborator to Elizaveta Peskova, the daughter of the Russian president’s spokesman.

In 2014, Marine Le Pen relied on Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, a well-presented international consultant in Russia and FN MEP, for funding from a Russian bank.

Today, the main man in relations between the Russian National Army and Russia is MEP Thierry Mariani, the ex-minister of Nicolas Sarkozy whom Marine Le Pen is considering as minister if she wins. It is assumed that Thierry Mariani has been playing the role of sales representatives for the Russian system in France for years. The war in Ukraine has not dampened his admiration for Vladimir Putin, whom he met personally in 2019: he holds the West responsible for the Ukrainian situation and questions the existence of war crimes committed by the Russian army.

In the European Parliament, Thierry Mariani and his colleagues could benefit from the personal skills of Tamara Volokhova: this former French-Russian top model, who would have won the ear of the Kremlin, and who became a political advisor to members of the European Parliament party, has organized or participated in several trips of elected officials In Russia or annexed Crimea.

Read our survey: This article is reserved for our subscribers Thierry Mariani: From the PACA region to Russia, a portrait of a powerful man

Financial Ties and Doubts of Counterparties

RN was able to find financial support in Russia that was often lacking in France, due to the reluctance of banks to lend money to the far right.

In April 2014, Cotelec, Jean-Marie Le Pen’s small party, received a €2 million loan from a shadowy Cypriot offshore company, Vernonsia Holdings Ltd. If the identity of the owner of this company is not clearly identified, Mediapart It revealed that it was fed with Russian money and linked to Yuri Kudimov – a former KGB agent who ran the Russian state bank VTB, and a confidant of the influential oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. RN indirectly benefited from this loan, because it borrowed money from Cotelec to finance the 2017 presidential campaign.

In 2014, the National Front directly contracted a loan from a Russian bank, the first Russian-Czech bank, to finance its campaign for the 2015 regional and administrative elections. A 9.4 million euro loan the party had to repay until 2028 from creditors of a bank that went bankrupt in the meantime.

These two loans raise questions. According to hacked conversations with Kremlin officials revealed in April 2015 by MediapartInterested parties wonder what Marine Le Pen should be like “to thank” for his support for the annexation of Crimea. Marine Le Pen, refutes the links between her attitudes towards Russia and these financial facilities. She claims that she had no choice but to take advantage of foreign financing, due to the difficulties of obtaining loans from French banks.

With borrowing from non-European banks banned since 2017, Marine Le Pen has turned to Hungary to fund its 2022 campaign.

Read also: This article is reserved for our subscribers Presidency 2022: Between Marine Le Pen and Hungarian Nationalist Viktor Orban, a very inspirational proximity

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